Music » Reverb

Triple Nickel Tavern won't go down without a fight


Triple Nickel owner JJ Grueter posted that the much-loved venue would likely close after its New Year’s Eve show, but a rescue effort is now in the works. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Triple Nickel owner JJ Grueter posted that the much-loved venue would likely close after its New Year’s Eve show, but a rescue effort is now in the works.
It looked as though Colorado Springs was in for a bad case of déjà vu to start 2018, when news broke that the Triple Nickel Tavern venue would likely be closing its doors for good due to financial issues. It was just over a year ago that Flux Capacitor shut down, although the DIY music space has since reopened at its new location.

Barely two weeks after the “555” marked its 12th anniversary with a two-night celebration featuring the likes of the Tejon Corner Street Thieves, Street Priests, Dear Rabbit, and more, owner JJ Grueter announced via his Facebook page on Dec. 30 that the local punk mecca would call it a day after its New Year’s Eve show.

“As much as it tears me apart,” said Grueter in his post, “I have exhausted all my resources. 12 years is a pretty good run.”

A good run, certainly, and the wave of support from local musicians was swift and steady, hoping that this wasn’t truly the end of the Nickel.

“I got over a thousand texts and messages from people who are willing to do whatever it takes — it was really eye-opening for me in a lot of ways,” Grueter says.

“The Triple Nickel has been a cornerstone in the Colorado Springs punk scene,” says Sebastian Nutter, drummer for 99 Bottles. “When it opened, I was just barely under legal bar age and couldn’t wait to step foot in the bar opened by one of my favorite childhood bands, Nobodys. I spent my 21st birthday there, and my relationship with [the Nickel] grew from there.”

Indeed, Nutter estimates he’s played at the Triple Nickel upwards of 40 shows with Stab Crew, Gutterrunts and, of course, 99 Bottles. In fact, 99 Bottles’ song “Working Drunk” includes the line “Hey now boys / let’s go to the Nic” and its accompanying music video closes with a mosh pit opening up, well... where else?

Local emcee Earsiq shared a similar fondness for the venue.
“The Triple Nickel has always been welcoming to artists of all genres, even though it’s [commonly thought of as] a ‘punk venue.’ I’ve been a part of quite a few different shows there that will always be ingrained in my mind as one of those ‘great shows.’”

Earsiq further notes that when he heard the news of the possible closing, he immediately headed to the Nickel to give support and “cheers to one of the best venues in town.”

Much like the Flux before it, the Nickel looks to perform its own rebirth.

“JJ was ready to stay closed and was very overwhelmed with the bar — being the one person running it,” explains Bryan Ostrow, who bartended and booked shows for the Nickel, in addition to co-founding the Flux Capacitor.

“But he was even more overwhelmed with the response, support, love and outcry from everyone. He was offered help in many directions and was convinced to not have this be the end.”

While the details are far from finalized, Ostrow is planning a partnership between the Flux and the Nickel, which will include some layout changes and added consistency to both the kitchen and bar hours. (Ostrow is planning on taking on a bigger role in the bar side of the venue to relieve some of the operational stress.)

As of now, all shows currently booked at the Nickel will still be taking place, and Ostrow says further news about the planned partnership will be announced, including a prospective fundraiser show. It’s clear that the local music community isn’t willing to let one of its best-loved venues go down without a fight.

In the words of Earsiq, “Music never dies, and I hope the 555 doesn’t go anywhere.”

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